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Back Pain During Pregnancy: Causes and Tips for Relief

Back Pain During Pregnancy: Causes and Tips for Relief

Back pain can be brutal, and if you’re pregnant there aren’t many pain medications you can take to ease your pain. There are many causes for your pain that are directly related to your pregnancy. Your growing baby can pull on the muscles and tendons, the extra weight can be a stress, as well as throw your center of gravity off. What can you do to help alleviate the tension and back pain during pregnancy? My fiancee, who is currently pregnant, enjoys hot baths to alleviate the pain. Cold can help too, so put an ice pack on the affected area. Acetaminophen in low doses may be safe but you should always consult a doctor about taking it first. Your hormones are going crazy right now, which can cause a great deal of pain on its own. If you add in the fact that the life you’re carrying is growing exponentially you can expect the kind of pain that you won’t soon forget. Did I mention that you can’t take pain medication? If you’ve looked everywhere for relief look no further.

Tips for relief

There are other ways to help soothe your pregnancy woes than dangerous drugs. Holistic approaches such as acupuncture are viable options. More proven methods, like chiropractors in extreme cases, would fix any alignment issues or correct posture problems that result from carrying the extra load. You’re almost there! Unless you had back problems before you got pregnant, the symptoms are likely to lessen before giving birth. After the pregnancy they should desist entirely.

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I’ve always found that deep breathing helps clear your mind of all the troubles of the world; meditation can take your mind off pain. You’ll want to get in the most comfortable seated position possible. Start with your toes and focus on relaxing that one part of the body. Once your toes are relaxed, work your way up the legs. Then you can begin to relax all the muscles in your torso, but remember to keep breathing deep. Concentrate on relaxing your arms and then your neck and head. If this doesn’t help you take your mind off the pain, try some stretching that focuses on the back. This Pinterest page on Prenatal Yoga has some ideas that would help you if you are experiencing back pain during pregnancy.

Lower back stretch

Lying on your back, stretch your arms and legs out so that you look like a pregnant gingerbread woman, or a child making snow angels. Take your right leg and move it to the left, over your other leg while keeping both shoulders on the ground. You should ease into it and move your left leg back so that your legs are in opposite positions now. You may not be able to get your right leg to the floor but this will help your lower back. Do it for both legs to help that sore lower back.

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Upper back stretch

This one you can do seated. Start by taking your left leg and pointing it straight forward while keeping it on the ground. Your right leg should go over that one so that your right foot is on the left of your left knee. Now take your left arm and rest it on your right knee, that should be used to help you stretch your back to the right. Go slow, don’t over extend yourself too much. If you are able to face your right side perpendicularly to your left leg this will help stretch you upper back. And if you’re looking for more of a mid-back stretch, a downward dog position should be effective. Just make sure to practice these so that you’ll become more limber and the pain will lessen.

Being pregnant takes a lot of energy, so make sure to get enough rest. You should however, try sleeping in different positions to see which one hurts your back less. Most people find lying on their side will help but you may be different. Stretching just before bed with help you sleep more comfortably and wake up with less soreness or pain.

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If you have someone who is willing to or want to spend the money on a masseuse, a thorough back massage will also lessen some tension. Or you might also try having an orgasm, which releases endorphins that block pain signals–however you arrive there. Heating pads are easy to use. There are electric kinds and ones that you heat up in a microwave. A simple DIY heating pad is to put a few cups of rice in a sock. Tie it off at the end and pop it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Nothing sounds more relaxing than an oil massage with hot rocks, just remember to use the oven for those. Don’t overcook your rocks, and when you’re lying down for your partner to give you a massage you will need to use pillows to make sure there is no weight on your baby. Light some candles or use an aromatic scent and let them caress the pain out of you.

Warning!

The most important thing to remember is that if the pain becomes too severe you need to go to a doctor. Sudden and severe back pain could mean a serious problem. If your pain is coming in waves it could be contractions. You might be going into preterm labor. You should go to a hospital or see a doctor immediately.

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Breathe easier

Now that you’ve curbed your back pain you can feel better about yourself and your baby. They might be causing you some pain but they will be here soon, and as you greet them and usher them into their new world they will bring you enough joy to make you forget all your worries (and pregnancy pains). Should you decide to have another, remember what has worked for you this time. Many pregnancies are different. Subsequent children may be more trouble to carry than the last, or easier. These tips can help you throughout the journey to building your family.

One more thing. Though your body is growing to help make room for your baby know that you are still as beautiful as the day you conceived, if not more. Whatever stress you are holding onto should be let go. The stress hormones in your body are shared with your baby, and lower back pain is related to those stress hormones. Whatever you can do to relax and have a happy pregnancy will not only help you but you your baby as well.

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Published on May 7, 2021

20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

From coaching martial arts to children as young as four years old, I very quickly came to the understanding that if I wanted to help kids progress their skills, I needed to find a way to help them focus more consistently in my class.

There are two key ways I found when it came to improving my students’ level of focus:

  1. Make what we’re doing more interesting. Nothing is off the table here—from having ninja clowns on the rampage in a lesson to including popular games with a martial arts theme, tapping into the student’s love of fun to help them focus.
  2. Introduce brain breaks.

Brain breaks are small mental breaks that help the kids stay more focused. Think of the brain as a fuel gauge that shows the information you can consciously hold in your mind at any given moment. When the kids are focused and working hard on their tasks, the meter is usually full. They can easily concentrate and pass experiences into their long-term memory.

But when the needle starts to drop, you may observe that your kids are feeling anxious or looking restless. New information, experiences, and knowledge are not getting processed from the staging area or working memory into the long-term memory.[1]

It’s here that brain breaks make the most difference, as they allow us to “top-up the tank” or reset the gauge so that we can continue to learn and focus and at a higher level.

If you’ve been home tutoring, you’ll appreciate that brain breaks can help kids in many ways. They can reduce stress and frustration. Think of those times when you’re helping your kids solve a difficult problem. It’s taxing for you both and when compounded with the energy loss after a day at school or watching TV. The stress effect can be compounded, and it’s here that brain breaks can be a lifesaver.[2]

The following is a selection of brain break ideas for kids. You’ll see that some are physical activities while others are more relaxing. It’s always great to test them out to see which ones connect the best with your children.

It’s okay to repeat the same brain breaks. Having a clear name and mission to a break can help keep your child excited, knowing that they’ll have the opportunity to take part in a future round of the activity.

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Active Brain Breaks

Here are some active brain breaks for kids that you can try out.

1. Swapsies

Have the participants stand behind a chair. Call out a character trait, like “everyone with brown eyes.” You then swap places with someone else who has the same characteristic. If you have nothing that matches, you stay put!

Examples: “Everyone with trainers on.” “Everyone who is left-handed.” “Everyone who is wearing yellow.”

2. Dance Party

Put five or six different types of songs on Spotify, including a classic like “baby shark or the hamster dance.” Dim the lights if possible and have the kids dance to the tunes. Then, change the tunes and change the dance style. It’s silly and fun.

3. Freeze Dance

Similar to Dance Party except that when the music stops, students have to stay perfectly still until the music restarts. You can make this even more fun by trying to make the students smile. If they smile, they are out and have to sit down.

4. Keep It Up

Students must keep a balloon from touching the floor. You can add multiple balloons. You can make it more competitive by having different balloons of two different colors and split people into teams. Whoever keeps the balloons up the longest or the team with the most balloons in the air with a timer of 60 seconds wins.

5. Simon Says

This brain break for kids is an old favorite. You can also mix it up with martial arts moves, Fortnite dances, superhero moves, etc.

6. Animal Movement

Move like different animals. It’s fun for younger children. We use Flamingo where you stand on one leg, crawl like a bear, stand like a meerkat, run like a cheetah, and walk like a penguin.

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7. Find It Fast

“Find It Fast” is a scavenger hunt variation. Call an item out in the room and kids have to stand by it. For example, find a clock, find something with a face, find something smelly, find some money, find a phone, etc.

8. The Frog

Physical Challenges can be excellent fun. We have one in the martial arts class called “The Frog” where you squat like a frog, then lean forward so your head and feet are off the floor. These are all old yoga poses, so have a look through a booklet or website for some safe ideas. Other examples are grabbing your nose with your left hand and touching your knee with your right elbow.

9. Pizza Delivery Time

Give the students paper plates and tell them to hold the plates above their head on a flat hand. They then run around the room and try to keep the plate in their hand. You can make it more challenging by having other students try to knock others’ plates off. There’s usually a 3-star jump penalty if your plate touches the floor.

10. Limbo

We use martial arts belts and the students take turns going underneath the belts. Fun music creates an awesome atmosphere here.

11. Human Knot

Split the group of people and have everyone link hands under and over. That’s making knots between everyone in the group. Have the other students try to untangle them and return everyone back into a circle.

12. Feather Balance

This brain break for kids works well with gentle music, and you can use a balloon or a straw if you don’t have a feather handy.

13. Stack them high

The students should have plastic cups and paper squares. The goal is to make a tower as high as possible, or it could be to make a triangle or even a pyramid.

Relaxing Brain Breaks

We talked about brain breaks for kids that are being used to energize the students. But they can also be used to calm and relax them. We’re more familiar with the term mindfulness, but it’s the same idea. These are brain breaks for kids that reduce stress and anxiety.

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14. Meditation

Meditation

is a popular way to reduce anxiety. There are lots of great examples already pre-recorded on YouTube that you can follow along with. Below is a useful classroom meditation example.

15. Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscopes are fun ways to relax. They are mesmerizing and like a peaceful vortex that sucks you into them. Below is a great example of a visual online one you can use.

16. Reading/Listening to a Story

When I surveyed the members of our martial arts club about how their kids employ brain breaks at home, there was a clear winner among the families—listening to a story or reading a story. The feedback was that the process of daydreaming a little helps the kids to recharge. But it goes without saying that the story needs to be engaging.

17. Doodling

My personal favorite way to brain break as a kid was to doodle. Doodling gives your child a few minutes to draw anything they want. It can be calming for them, and it’s a lot more fun if you have different types of pens or crayons available to use. Add some soft music, and you have a simple way to take some time to relax.

18. Coloring Sheets

Coloring sheets are another way to relax the mind. There’s lots of great coloring in pads available, but here are some links to public resources shared on the internet that are great examples.

19. Deep Breathing

Deep breathing

is an epic way to help your child slow down. It is a quick way to relieve anxiety so that they feel more ready for the next task ahead.

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Try this: put your hands on your tummy, breathe in through the nose, and feel your belly expand like a balloon. Hold it here, then slowly breathe out through the mouth while feeling your stomach get smaller. Repeat this 10 times. Use the following counts: breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and breath out for 4 seconds.

20. Going Outside

Go outside was the second most popular response from our parent’s survey about brain breaks for kids at home. Fresh air always feels nice. You can combine this with a treasure hunt, looking for different colored cars, types of birds, or even types of trees, if you’re familiar with these.

My personal favorite is using a mushroom spotting app on our phones and finding a mushroom or toadstool, then using the app to identify its name. This is surprisingly engaging for children. But a few safety rules about not touching them is important. It gives kids a change of scenery and helps revitalize the senses, providing a welcome break from their homework.

How Often Should You Introduce Brain Breaks?

The key to brain breaks is their timing. If you can introduce them before you notice that your kids are entering deep fatigue or their loss of focus has set in. You’ll find a great balance between breaks and effort.

I’ve observed from my martial arts coaching that younger students have a smaller amount of working memory than older kids. My formula is for five minutes of technical training, we provide five minutes of brain breaks for students under seven years old. Plus, we coach to 15 minutes of training to five minutes of brain breaks for children under 12 years.

Final Thoughts

Implementing calming brain breaks for kids is a really efficient way of introducing brain breaks. You have a quick way to allow your students to learn about regulating themselves. Balancing their mind and energy is a useful skill, and you can take this with you everywhere you go.

Our martial arts center revolutionized our approach to coaching by using brain breaks for kids. We found that although we were teaching less technical skills, there was now consistent progress from the students. Plus, everyone was less anxious, happier, and are having more fun. This is a win overall.

If you’ve been having challenges with your kids focusing at home, maybe try a mixture of the calming and active breaks to see which types work best for your kids.

Featured photo credit: Robert Collins via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] SimplyPsychology: Working Memory Model
[2] BrainFacts.org: Kids Need Brain Breaks — And So Do Adults

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